Saving

3 Financial Steps You Can Take RIGHT NOW To Help Launch 2016

“You never have to recover from a great start.”

This is a great quote that can apply to your financial journey for 2016! While we’re still a couple of weeks away from the new year, you can take steps right now to launch into 2016 with a financial fury!

5 Financial Steps You Can Take RIGHT NOW

  1. Open a 529 College Savings Plan for each of your children (or grandchildren)  One of the greatest blessings a child can receive is a college education free from the burden of student loans! Plus there are usually tax incentives for investments into your state’s plan!
  2. Open an online Savings Account (and start saving for Christmas 2016!) I am a big fan of online savings banks, and have held my savings there for years.
  3. Increase contributions to the retirement account (401k, 403b, 457, TSP, SEP-IRA, IRA, Roth-IRA, TFSA, RSP)  Even a 1% increase can completely change the trajectory of your financial future!

These three steps could be completed in less than 30 minutes. Why not do it now?

Challenge: Learn New Things

I love to learn new things!  If I learn something new every single day, then my life is very good.

I really want to challenge you to learn something new every day too. Here are some things I have learned that may help you out:

  • Insurance rates are much cheaper when bundled (auto & home; home & life; etc.) and for most people who have priced theirs out within the past couple of years, the savings could be $200 or more per year.
  • When you go to a dentist or doctor, you can negotiate the charges.  It is a service!!!  Many times, you can obtain a substantial discount on the amount you owe after insurance has paid its portion.  I have saved 10% twice and 6% once, each saving me $100s of dollars!
  • Use cash envelopes for spending categories that you tend to impulse on – groceries, dining out, clothing, spending money, entertainment.  We budget a set amount, pull it out in cash, and refuse to approach the bank again for the rest of the month.  When the money runs out, we’re done for the month!  It ensures you will NEVER overspend your budget!
  • Buy off-brands at the grocery store.  We have saved over $200/month since going to a cash envelope for groceries and purchasing the off-brands.  Off-brand milk tastes just like name-brand milk.  Off-brand Cheerios taste just like Cheerios.  Off-brand Froot-Loops taste just like Froot Loops.  Off-brand fritos taste just like Fritos.  I’m sticking with my Heinz ketchup, however.
  • Wait overnight on any purchase greater than $200.  I have not regretted this at all.  I have waited overnight on every large purchase, and it has really cooled the jets on some deals I might have made in the past.  This is a great way to avoid buyer’s remorse!  Wait.
  • Garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, jockey lot sales, e-bay – are all great ways to find a great deal.
  • Fund some FUN with your tax refund.  I always make sure that we fund our summer vacation with our tax refund.  This ensures that I am going to follow the budget!  If my budget did not allow me to have fun, then it is quite likely that I would not be teaching this stuff!  I would certainly be less passionate about it.
  • Ask.  If you are going to spend a large sum of money on something, ask around for it first.  Somebody might have the very thing you are going to purchase and will sell it for pennies on the dollar or even give it to you!
  • Swap labor.  Help you friend or neighbor on their project and then have them help you out with yours.  No money.  Friendships are built.  Can you say WIN-WIN?

Can someone teach me something new today?  Add a comment below!

3 Ways to Save Money – Part Three

During this series, I’m sharing PROVEN and PRACTICAL techniques that have helped people save money.

PART ONE – Automatic Draft From Paycheck

PART TWO – Create an Escrow Account For Known, Upcoming Expenses

PART THREE – Establish Accountability

Find someone who is (1) winning with money, (2) not trying to sell you something, and (3) available to help you. Ask them to hold you accountable to your saving goal.  I have seen some people go to the extreme length of actually giving the money to the other individual to hold for them because they cannot trust themselves to keep their own hands off of it.

Accountability can also be created by your written spending plan that you prepare every month before the month begins (you do prepare one, right?).  This plan helps cement your goals in your mind and helps you connect the fact that if you spend money on unplanned items, you will literally be robbing yourself of your savings goals.

I am married – this means I have built-in accountability.  Jenn is a huge saver.  She keeps me (the spender) in control. Establish accountability – it works!

3 Ways to Save Money – Part Two

During this series, I’m sharing PROVEN and PRACTICAL techniques that have helped people save money.

PART ONE – Automatic Draft From Paycheck

PART TWO – Create an Escrow Account For Known, Upcoming Expenses

For those unfamiliar with an escrow account, it is a savings account that is generally established by a mortgage company.  The mortgage company totals the annual cost of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance and divides it by the number of payments being made each year.  The mortgage company then pays for the taxes and insurance from this escrow (savings) account.  For example, if the property taxes are $1,200/year (sorry Northern folks – this is how low they are in the South) and the insurance is $600, then the total amount needed each year is $1,800.  The mortgage company will collect $150 extra with each monthly payment to place into the escrow account.

An escrow account smooths out the cost over a year – instead of having to pay for it all in one month.  It tightens the monthly budget, but having a fully funded escrow account sure is AWESOME when vacation arrives and the money has already been saved to pay cash for it!  Those who have a mortgage with an escrow account will testify to the fact that they never worry about paying for the taxes and insurance – ask someone!

Take it from one who has lived it – if you do not plan for your known, upcoming expenses, your ability to save money will be tremendously hampered!

Related Tool – Known, Upcoming Expenses Calculator

 

3 Ways to Save Money – Part One

One of the largest issues I see during one-on-one financial coaching is the inability to save money. Saved money is essential to long-term sustainability.  Saved money relieves stress and allows you to take a chance.  Saved money allows life to happen (job loss, disability, pay cut, injury, etc.).

But you already knew that part.  Yet, even though we KNOW how important it is to save money, most people fail to do so.  So, I wanted this series to focus PROVEN and PRACTICAL techniques that have helped people save money.

If you have negative savings (no money plus overdrafted accounts and debt), the goal is to bring you to zero.  If you are at zero, the goal is to get to at least $2,500.  If you have been able to save a substantial amount of money, it is my hope that you will participate in the discussion and share your own tips that have worked well for you!

PART ONE  Automatic Draft From Paycheck

Establish a savings account and have the money drafted from every single paycheck.  Whether it’s $25 or $250 per pay period – just SAVE!  You KNOW that the car is going to break down.  You KNOW that the school is going to send home a surprise expense.

By establishing this draft, it allows the money to be “out-of-sight.”  When money is out-of-sight, it can be out-of-mind.  This allows the account to grow without being robbed.

Now, I personally had a problem with this when I did not have a monthly budget.  I would ROB my own savings account about 2.1 microseconds after I was paid.  My account did not start growing in a healthy manner until after Jenn and I developed a plan that we agreed on.

How about you?  Is your paycheck set up for an automatic draft into your savings account?